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Health authorities are on the alert for dengue fever and have issued some advice to mitigate the spread of the potentially deadly disease. In September, the Ministry of Health said laboratory tests have confirmed 180 cases of dengue fever in Jamaica since the start of 2012 out of 472 suspected cases.
 

WHAT IS DENGUE?

Dengue is a viral infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito when the female bites an infected person and then bites other people.

 

THE FACTS OF DENGUE

  • Dengue fever is caused by a virus transmitted from the Aedes Aegypti mosquito
  • One adult Aedes Aegypti mosquito will live for a month and will lay around 300 or more eggs during its lifetime
  • They lay their eggs in water around the house and breed in densely populated areas
  • The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world's population is now at risk.
  • Over 2.5 billion people – over 40% of the world's population – are now at risk from dengue
  • WHO currently estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.
  • Severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and Latin American countries.
  • There is no specific treatment for dengue/ severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1%.
  • Severe dengue (previously known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever) was first recognized in the 1950s during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand.
  • Severe dengue affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children in these regions.
  • There are four distinct serotypes of the virus that cause dengue. Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that particular serotype. However, subsequent infections by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue.
  • The Aedes aegypti mosquito lives in urban habitats and breeds mostly in man-made containers.
  • Unlike other mosquitoes Aedes aegypti is a daytime feeder; its peak biting periods are early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
  • Female Aedes aegypti bites multiple people during each feeding period.

 

DENGUE SYMPTOMS

  • Persistent high fever (40°C/ 104°F)
  • Severe headache with pain behind the eyes
  • Rash on chest and arms
  • Loss of appetite and no taste in the mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Symptoms usually last from two to seven days
  • Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment.

 

IF YOU CATCH DENGUE…

  • If you suspect that you may have dengue fever, visit your doctor in order to have the diagnosis confirmed and a report made to the Ministry of Health
  • Dengue fever usual resolves itself within a week. Most people, who have dengue, will only have very mild symptoms
  • If you are diagnosed with dengue or suspect that you have it, avoid aspirin as aspirin can lead to bleeding and thins the blood.
  • Acetaminophen or regular pain killers can be used to help with the pain
  • Drink lots of fluids and rest

 

DENGUE PREVENTION TIPS

  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor taps
  • Cut grass cut short and keep shrubbery well trimmed. Adult mosquitoes tend to hide in shrubbery  
    Remove all the possible areas that allow for the breeding of mosquitoes
  • Keep house plants in damp soil instead of water
  • Keep flower pot saucers dry and avoid over-watering potted plants
  • Empty and scrub flower vases twice weekly. Mosquito eggs can live for months in an empty vase and hatch once they become wet. Scrubbing the insides will remove any attached egg
  • Keep refrigerator draws dry
  • Punch holes in the bottom of tins before placing them in the garbage
  • Cover trash containers to keep rain water out
  • Properly cover drums, barrels, tanks, buckets and any other containers used to store water
  • Search in and around your home for anything that might hold stagnant water such as an empty flower pot, coconut shells, tyres, etc. and dispose of them
  • Commercially available insecticides can be used to spray mosquitoes
  • Mosquito bites can be prevented by using repellent that contains deet.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net
  • Close windows before it gets dark
  • Open windows and doors during fogging

Sources

Health Ministry issues dengue prevention tips

'Dengue and severe dengue: Fact Sheet'. World Health Organisation. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/. Accessed September 11, 2012